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Various Nutrition Posts

Part Four

by Gary F. Zeolla
(a.k.a. Reepicheep)

Note: The material on this page has been revised and incorporated into the book Creationist Diet: Nutrition and God-given Foods According to the Bible: It is available in paperback and eBook formats from AuthorHouse.


This compilation of posts I have made in the "sci.med.nutrition" Newsgroup is continued from Various Nutrition Posts - Part Three. In posts where I am responding to another's comments, their comments are summarized in brackets.


Dairy and Osteoporosis

[I just read somewhere that people with osteoporosis should not consume dairy products. Is this true? It seems opposite to everything I've ever learned.]

You have run into one of the most debated areas of nutrition. Dairy products are assailed by a variety of persons for a variety of reason, some sound, some not so sound.

After studying this subject in some depth, I have come to a few conclusions:

1. The only really sound reason to assail dairy products is their high fat content. Yes, whole milk, and whole milk products can be a problem due to their high sat fat content, and are associated with an increased risk of heart disease and cancer. But low fat milk products do not have this problem. And skim milk, and especially yogurt, is associated with decreased risk of heart disease and some cancers.

2. Lactose intolerance is a problem for many. However, studies show that the rate of lactose intolerance is grossly overestimated by people. IOW, a lot of people who think they are lactose intolerance in reality are not when tested with double blind studies. Furthermore, those who are genuinely lactose intolerant can usually tolerate one to two cups of milk, if taken with meals or if broken up in small amounts during the day. Also, yogurt and lactose reduced or acidophilus milk is tolerated by most who are lactose intolerant.

3. Getting to the problem you mentioned, osteoporosis, lactose intolerance (or supposed lactose intolerance) actually helps to expose the falsity of claims that the calcium in milk is not absorbed. In studies, those who avoid milk because of intolerance are shown to have lower bone densities than those who consume dairy products. So the calcium in dairy products is well absorbed and helps to prevent osteoporosis.

4. Milk is used in studies as the standard by which the absorbability of the calcium in other foods is compared. For instance, I was looking at one study which compared the absorbability of the calcium in mineral water to that in milk. The study specifically said milk was being used for comparison for its high calcium absorbability. However, I should state, the study did find that the calcium in mineral water was more absorbable than that in milk. The calcium in soybeans was also found to be highly absorbable in another study.

5. However, one study showed that it is the amount of calcium consumed during childhood and adolescence that was the most important predictor of osteoporosis. Calcium intake later in life was less important.

6. Later in life, other factors besides calcium intake seem to be more important. The most important is hormones. If you're a post-menopausal woman then talk to your doctor about hormone replacement therapy.

7. Another important factor is exercise. This is something you most definitely should do (cleared with your doctor first, of course). But note, not just any exercise will do; it has to be weight bearing. So something like swimming, although all around an excellent exercise, is not good for the bones.

The best exercise is strength training. Next would be "striking" exercises, i.e.. exercise where your foot or arm had "strikes" against something, as in the foot against the pavement in walking or jogging, or the arm with racket against a ball as in tennis and racquetball. Also note, some studies show high calcium intake coupled with exercise helps to increase bone mass even later in life.

I hope the above helps clear up some confusion. You can study this subject some yourself by searching and reading abstracts of scientific studies on osteoporosis in PubMed.

Below is one such abstract that shows the falsity of claims against dairy products:

J Dairy Sci 1994 Dec;77(12):3498-505
Dairy calcium, bone metabolism, and prevention of osteoporosis.
Renner E
Dairy Science Section, Faculty of Agriculture, Justus Liebig University, Giessen, Germany.

Single-photon absorptiometry was used to measure the bone mineral content of young adults, osteoporotic patients, and age-matched controls without bone disease. A retrospective dietary survey was made to study the relationship between calcium intake and bone mineral content at different periods of life. The bone mineral content and bone mineral density of young adults are directly related to the calcium intake through milk and diary products.

Calcium intake through milk and milk products in childhood and adolescence had been significantly lower in patients than in the controls; for the later periods of life (both the 20 to 30 yr prior to the study and at the time of the study), no significant differences existed between the calcium intakes of the two groups. Adequate calcium intake also protected against increased bone resorption, as evidenced in particular by the reduced serum osteocalcin, a parameter of bone turnover.

The data support the hypothesis that adequate calcium intake through milk and milk products in childhood and adolescence is a decisive marker for attaining maximum bone mass (peak adult bone mass) and for the prevention of osteoporosis. The recommended dietary allowances of calcium have been fixed to 1200 mg/d for the age group between 10 and 24 yr. However, in Germany, calcium was undersupplied by up to 50% in the diet of children and adolescents.

PMID: 7699131, UI: 95213452


Nutrition Software

[Does anyone know of nutrition software that would calculate the amount of calories, vitamins, minerals, etc. in my diet?]

I personally use Diet Analysis from Parson's Technologies. It is a very good program, but, unfortunately is no longer available. It is also a 16 bit program. So I have been looking into a 32 bit program to get. A good program I found is DietPower.

[Also, my supplements are costing me a fortune. I have not been including the nutrients in foods in calculating how much supplements to take. But since I've been diagnosed with osteoporosis, I have been very concerned about my nutritional intake.]

If your "supplements are costing you a fortune" then I would say you are taking too many supplements! Supplements should be just that, supplements. They are not meant too, nor can they replace all the nutrients you can get from a good diet. I would recommend saving your money and spending it on some good, healthy food instead!

Of course, if your doctor has recommended specific supplements, by all means take them. But don't ignore the nutrients in food in figuring out your total intake. Maybe one the above programs will help you in this regard.


Eggs and Cancer

[Excerpts from abstracts:

These data suggest that the ratio of polyunsaturated to saturated fat may be a better indicator of colorectal cancer risk than the absolute amount of specific fats in the diet. They also suggest that eggs and, possibly, untrimmed red meat and processed meat increase, and chicken eaten without skin decreases, colorectal cancer risk (Le Marchand L. Wilkens LR. Hankin JH. Kolonel LN. Lyu LC. A case-control study of diet and colorectal cancer in a multiethnic population in Hawaii (United States): lipids and foods of animal origin. Cancer Causes & Control. 8(4):637-48, 1997 Jul).

Consumption of eggs was also associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer. Multivariable-adjusted relative risks for increasing frequency of egg consumption were 1.00

(<1/week), 1.12 (1/week), 2.04 (2-4/week), and 1.81 (>4/week) (p for trend = 0.04). (Kushi LH. Mink PJ. Folsom AR. Anderson KE. Zheng W. Lazovich D. Sellers TA. Prospective study of diet and ovarian cancer. American Journal of Epidemiology. 149(1):21-31, 1999 Jan 1).]

Interesting studies. They show that eggs, and at least some kinds of meat, increase cancer risk, but that skinless chicken decreases risk. This mostly confirms how I classified foods in my Foods, Heart Disease, Cancer, and Stroke post. Red meat increases risk while skinless chicken decreases risk.

However, for eggs, I put them in the "neutral" (neither increase nor decrease risk) category with the stipulation that one or less was consumed per day. But that was based on the heart disease risk. However, the latter study shows that even at moderate intakes eggs increase cancer risk. So I will be moving them into the "increase risk" category. And for my own diet, I will cease to eat eggs as a meal, but I don't think it is necessary to worry about the small amount of eggs used for cooking/ baking purposes.


Saturated Fat Really Bad?

[Recent studies show that saturated fats (the kind of fat found in animal foods) is not really unhealthy.]

In regards to sat fat, I found a couple of the studies looking at milk to be especially interesting. One I referred to in my post Foods, Heart Disease, Cancer, and Stroke. It showed that women who consumed whole milk had higher rates of ovarian cancer; those who consumed low-fat milk had lower rates, and those who consumed skim milk had the lowest rates.

Another study I looked at but didn't referred to studied cholesterol levels in relation to the type of milk drunk. Those who consumed whole milk had the highest cholesterol levels than whose who consumed skim milk (abstract included at end of this message).

Studies like these suggest that sat fat levels are significant in regards to cancer and heart disease. Of course, it could be something else that is different between the groups that is accounting for the differences. But for the result to be so specific on the type of milk drunk is supportive of the idea that there are problems with sat fat.

Am J Clin Nutr 1994 Mar;59(3):612-8
Effect of consumption of whole milk and skim milk on blood lipid profiles in healthy men.
Steinmetz KA, Childs MT, Stimson C, Kushi LH, McGovern PG, Potter JD, Yamanaka WK
Division of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis 55454-1015.

A controlled crossover feeding study was conducted in eight males aged 20-36 y to compare the effects of skim milk and whole milk on blood lipids. For 6-wk diet periods, 236 mL/4191 kJ of skim or whole milk was consumed with a background diet designed according to the American Heart Association recommendations.

Plasma lipids were analyzed at baseline and at 3 and 6 wk. After 6 wk, the mean total cholesterol concentration was 4.47 mmol/L with skim milk and 4.80 mmol/L with whole milk (P < or = 0.001); mean low-density-lipoprotein-cholesterol concentrations were 2.64 and 2.96 mmol/L, respectively (P < or = 0.001). Mean apolipoprotein B decreased with skim milk and increased with whole milk (P < or = 0.05). No statistically significant differences were observed for plasma high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol, triglyceride, apolipoprotein A-I, or fatty acids. Substitution of skim milk for whole milk may decrease the risk of coronary heart disease.

PMID: 8116537, UI: 94160909


RDAs not Minimums

[The RDAs are minimums. You should actually get more than these figures for each nutrient.]

Sorry, but the RDAs are not "minimums." Consider the following taken from the book, The Essential Guide to Vitamins and Minerals by Elizabth Somer, M.A. R.D. (Harper, 1992 - I know, a little old, but the info is still good):

The RDA for each nutrient is designed to meet or exceed most people's requirements for that nutrient, and in most cases, the RDA contains a margin of safety. What does this margin of safety mean? It means the "R" in RDA stands for recommendation, not requirement, and that the RDAs ARE NOT MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS, but meet the nutrient requirements and contain an extra allowance for most people (p.11, emphasis added).

Now, the book goes on to state that the RDAs might not be sufficient in some cases, such as in chronic, disease states, the use of medicines that interfere with absorption, etc..

Probably the most important limitation as regards many in this group is stated in the following, "The RDAs are recommendations to prevent classical nutrient deficiency diseases and to maintain growth, maintenance, and repair of tissues. They do not consider the relationship between nutrients and the prevention of diseases" (p.12).

So there might be a case for ingesting amounts larger than the RDAs for some vitamins or minerals for the purpose of preventing diseases like cancer or heart disease. But under normal situations, for day to day life, the RDAs are designed to be more than adequate. Now we can debate if they are high enough or not, but the main point is, the RDAs are supposed to represent the amounts people actually need, not minimums.

[Nutrients are have substantially less than 100% bioavailability. So you need to consume far more than the RDA for your body to actually absorb the recommended amount of a nutrient. Iron, in particular has very poor bioavailability.]

Bioavailability is considered in the formulation of the RDAs. For instance, in regards to iron, this book states, "The RDAs take into account that only about 10% of dietary intake is absorbed" (p.106).

Creationist Diet: Nutrition and God-given Foods According to the Bible. This book is available from the publisher AuthorHouse and from conventional and online bookstores. ISBN: 1587218526

Various Nutrition Posts - Part Four. Copyright 1999 by Gary F. Zeolla.

Disclaimer: The material presented on this page is intended for educational purposes only. The author is not offering medical or legal advice. Accuracy of information is attempted but not guaranteed. Before undertaking any diet or exercise program, one should consult your doctor. The author is in no way responsible or liable for any bodily harm, physical, mental, or emotional, that results from following any of the advice in this article.

The above items were posted on this Web site December 5, 1999.

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